Mission Impossible 4
It was worth it for the stunts and character dynamics between the team members. There was nothing especially cerebral about it, but it was a fun ride that was worth watching.
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Thread: Official movie thread.
02-03-2012, 15:16 #1941
10-03-2012, 11:26 #1942
Re-Cycle (Gwai Wik) - 6/10
(A disjointed mess of a surreal movie with loose ends a plenty, but great visuals)
Hope I didn't give away the movie yet, because there aint much story to it. But it looks great! Re-Cycle is one of the latest projects by the Pang Brothers, who made the awesome The Eye, and then proceeded to make movies that got progressively worse (one which I reviewed earlier in this thread). A word of warning, I'm pretty much going to spoil the whole movie here, so if you plan on seeing it, you might just want to skip to the final paragraph for the final verdict.
Re-Cycle follows the Asian horror movie trend of using normal English words and putting a "-" in the middle to some how put a twist on it that doesn't make much sense to an actual English speaking audience. It follows a female writer, who is working on a new book. But as she explains, she has a lot in common with the main character. We see her writing/typing one night, and spooky long haired girl stuff starts to pop up for no apparent reason. None of it is really scary, which is mostly due to the editting. Fortunately, the movie quickly steers away from these cliches and starts doing its own thing. Instead of fleeing the appartment, she starts to write. She notices her crumbled pieces of paper moving by them selves, and as she reads the text on them, she quickly finds herself descending into the dreamworld with really sudden changes of scenery.
For example, you can't go from this:
This also is the main flaw of the movie. The Pang Brothers have gone overboard with their obsession with CGI and visuals, pretty much like the Asian equivalent of George Lucas. They seem to have forgotten the importance of telling a story. The digital scenes the main character walks into look amazing, but it is all very sudden, not grounded in a good story, and on top of that the performance of the actress doesn't succeed in drawing us in. In fact, it highlights the fact that we are seeing CGI scenery. You can tell she is looking at a green screen.
Take a look at this next scene.
The main character meets up with a little girl, who tells her that the big CGI junkyard behind her is all her discarded ideas. Then it all suddenly starts to fall apart (which feels incredibly like Silenthill's dark world effect). As the two of them run away, you can tell by their faces that none of them are feeling the urgency of the CGI chaos behind them, and this destroys the scene. It makes it impossible to believe that any of it is real, and draws extra attention to what is clearly CGI. We see the ginormous CGI storm behind them gently tug at their clothes, which instantly made me feel that they should have placed the actors in a wind tunnel, not in front of a leaf blower. When a movie relies so heavily on CGI, all these details really start to bother the audience. Especially when it is so disjointed.
We go through multiple of these awesome CGI surreal environments, none of which actually further the story, or have a grounding in the plot. Until we get to the tunnel of aborted babies.
Yep, this movie went there. Apparently, plot twist, the movie is largely about the main character dealing with her hard decission not to keep her baby... and the little girl that was with her all along, is of course.... Ugh, that is really cheap, but okay, we finally see some emotion in the performance. The movie does its best imitation of Ghost (but without Patrick Swayze) as grandpa and little girl fade into a bright light. The main character gently starts to fade (as her hands become transparent we make a couple of Back to the Future jokes), and as we expect her to dissolve into a swirl of CGI dust, the movie just fades to white. That was really jarring to see. We all yell out "JUMANJI!" as she wakes up back at her apartment. Seriously, they could have done the Jumanji effect with her dissolving into dust, since they hit every other cliche up to this point. Then another plot twist, she is actually a made up character in the head of another writer, and the whole movie comes full circle, which is a clever idea. But ultimately it doesn't make any sense.
The movie really falls apart due to the focus on CGI over story. Special effects are the tools to tell a story. They ARE not the story. Throwing surreal imagery at the screen is easy (Mirror Mask did that as well), but grounding it in a good story takes effort. Especially with CGI it becomes so important to get a good performance out of the actors, and make the audience believe it is all real. The acting in this movie is disappointing. I'm usually not that good at judging the acting in foreign movies, since I don't speak the language. But if just the body language itself conveys poor acting, then the acting must be REALLY bad. Mirror Mask didn't have half the CGI budget of Re-cycle, but it did a better job at letting the audience forget that it was all fake (even if it looked fake as hell). It is up to the actors to sell the world to the audience and make us believe it. This can be especially hard if you have young actors. When you have a little girl running from a storm that is ripping the world apart, she should not be looking like she is having a great time. Ultimately the movie has some merit due to the original visuals, but the Pang Brothers seem to have forgotten how to direct the things that are not CG, the actors. This movie is neither really scary, nor does it draw you into its world. The constant switching between completely different settings makes it feel as if we are watching a videogame, and its loading up new levels (each with their own unique theme). None of it fits together, which causes the movie as a whole to not feel like one world. The Pang Brothers were clearly too focussed on the imagery, as they have been a lot with their latest movies. Perhaps if they had less money, they would be forced to tell a proper story again.
Last edited by Rob Van Der Sloot; 10-03-2012 at 11:37.
10-03-2012, 21:36 #1943
Drive wasn't quite what I was expecting, though that's no bad thing. It's surprisingly brutal, particularly when the protagonist is not being the best dad his neighbour's son never had and gets his vicious streak on, a little slow off the starting line and there's less car chasing than it was made out to have, but it's still a great film.
Also, epic soundtrack is epic.
11-03-2012, 15:10 #1944
Zathura a space adventure - 8/10
(Not as wacky as Jumanji, but with a better clue at the end)
I had never watched Zathura, because it appeared pretty late after Jumanji (which I loved), and seemed like a cheap cash in. But recently a friend recommended that I watched it. He told me, it was not that bad. And he's right, its not. Zathura, being a sequel to Jumanji, does a lot of things right. It doesn't try to be Jumanji for starters. It has an all new cast, a different premise, a different setting, different rules, different everything. The only thing it has in common with Jumanji, is that it is about a boardgame coming to life and causing insane chaos, which is all resolved if the game is completed. And I love that.
Constant comparisons to Jumanji are unavoidable when reviewing this movie. Personally, Jumanji is still my favourite. I am one of those viewers who was not bothered by Jumanji's dated CGI, not even today. Because as long as the movie has a good story and a good cast of characters, the CGI becomes simply fluff. But there are a few things that Zathura does better than Jumanji, and somethings they do worse. Lets start with the bad things first:
The characters, two boys, can be pretty annoying with their constant fighting throughout the movie. In the end that is what the movie is about, and it ends with them bonding, so thats all good. But kids in movies can be annoying. Tim Robins is wasted in this movie. His acting is... well like he had better things to do that day... and his role is really short. He only shows up at the beginning and the end. Jumanji showed that mixing adults with kids can create some wonderful chemistry between the characters. Zathura doesn't do that much, until they introduce an astronaut later on in the movie. But you are pretty much watching these two kids fighting throughout the movie. Kristen Steward has a minor role in this movie as a stuck up dumb older sister. How appropriate. But again, she doesn't have a whole lot to do in the movie. Having her more involved with the story could have helped relief the annoyances of the two kids.
The action is down played a lot. It is not nearly the chaos of Jumanji, and it only affects their own house, not the entire neighbourhood. I loved how in Jumanji, everything got progressively worse. It was like an exponential disaster, and none of the threats that escaped from the game were forgotten. For example, the monkeys and plants that escape early on in Jumanji, continue to cause chaos throughout the movie. In Zathura, there are a lot of one-shot surprises, and also a lot of turns that simply involve a couple of extra steps, but no disaster. I like having more disasters. Zathura is definately a less epic boardgame.
The soundtrack is not as memorable as Jumanji. Jumanji really had some clearly recognisable themes. I bet if someone played the Jumanji theme, you would recognise it if you've seen the movie. With Zathura, not so much.
There is not much humour. It is not because Robin Williams isn't in it. Overall, the tone of the movie seems more serious. This eventually pays off near the end, but it could have used more jokes to lighten the mood. Still, I'm glad they didn't go all slapstick, like that silly supermarket scene in Jumanji.
And now the good: the pay off. The movie managed to keep my attention, so I was pretty into it. And that usually means I'm not trying to second guess the plot. In fact, I didn't really expect there to be any plot twists, because Jumanji didn't have much of that either. Much to my surprise, the movie pulls a complete 180 near the end. And honestly, that instantly swayed my opinion of the movie. If you haven't seen the movie yet, then I'm not going to spoil it. Thumbs up movie, you didn't underestimate your audience, even if it is just a kids movie.
Now I did really like how in Jumanji there was a bit of drama. Robin Williams was trapped in Jumanji for many frightening years, and the movie didn't just ignore that. They spend quite a bit of time letting his character discover that his whole life was gone. His parents are gone, his father's company is gone, and as it turns out: His father even spent every last penny to try and find his son. His character basically came to a whole new understanding of his dad. I thought Jumanji showed some really honest drama there. I think that is key. The movie should take it self serious, yet occasionally poke fun at itself as well. The huffing and puffing rhino that was always lagging behind the rest of the stampede was my favourite gag. Jumanji struck a correct balance between gags and serious drama. Zathura doesn't go into drama much. The consequences of the game are never really explored, and overall the consequences are of course only limited to the two brothers and their house.
Is it a better movie than Jumanji? Hard to say. Overall I still think Jumanji is the more entertaining movie, with more heart. But damn, that plot twist near the end of Zathura was clever. I really really really liked that. Some other details, like the reprogram-card that is used to reprogram a malfunctioning killer robot, was really one of those moments where the audience is just pounding their head against the wall. Because you know right from the moment they draw that card, what it is intended for. Yet the characters don't get it until the climax of the movie. As I explained with my review of Predator, it is really important if the audience doesn't figure things out waaaaaay before the characters in the movie do. Because that makes the characters look extremely stupid. If you lay out the clues so clearly, the characters should get it as well: Malfunctioning death-bot =>> Reprogram card. It is so obvious. That annoyed me a bit.
So final verdict: Its a good movie. Not as much as an action packed thrill ride like Jumanji, but with a good plot. I also liked the design of the boardgame and the style of the space theme. It all kind of looked like classic wind up toys. But it is aimed at kids. Still, I think adults can enjoy it just the same, if they can stand the two bickering brothers.
Last edited by Rob Van Der Sloot; 06-08-2012 at 17:28.
19-03-2012, 17:04 #1945
John Carter (of Mars) - 7/10
(Entertaining, but not without its flaws)
This past weekend I went to see John Carter. This movie is getting mixed reviews. A large chunk of the scifi audience seems to think it is okay, yet apparently it also flopped. Well, what can I say. I enjoyed it. But through out the movie I kept having trouble being invested in it all. I think the main problem is the characters, it is really hard to like them. Taylor Kitsch plays a really unlikable John Carter, and with all his blunders, and other people solving his mistakes, it is really hard to care for this guy. Then there is Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris, who seems to be visually struggling with playing a serious role, while wearing an absurd bikini. And I can't blame her, she looks ridiculous.
The CGI in John Carter is not as bad as it looked in the trailer, but damn, the contrast between live action and CG is such a strain to the eyes, One moment you are clearly on a real set, and the next you are watching a cartoon. It really is bothersome how those two styles are worlds apart. This contrast is highlighted even more by the change in scenery, lighting and colours. And the aliens really look fake when standing right next to real actors. Again, even the alien characters are hard to like.
The 3D for the most part is alright. When ever there are big CGI set pieces, it works pretty good. But when ever there is live action, the 3D doesn't do anything. Again this highlights how different the CGI is from the live action.
The story is kind of all over the place. The motivations of the bad guys aren't very clear, which kind of makes them cliche Bond villains. There are some plot points and jokes that don't really go anywhere, and there are some gags which do the movie more harm than good. I think worst of all, is that the story doesn't really lead to anything new. There isn't much of a revelation, although the movie tries desperately. Ultimately, it is the lack of investment in the characters that kills it. Thats not to say it isn't a fun movie. Far from it, it is an easy popcorn flick where you don't have to pay much attention. So I'm sure there is an audience for it. But I think a lot of scifi fans will probably expect the movie to be a bit more intelligent than it really is. In that regard, John Carter doesn't deliver. Oh, and the big arena battle really reminds me of Starwars II Attack of the Clones. Not a good thing. I can forgive the movie for a lot of things, and comparisons with other recent scifi movies such as Star Wars, Avatar and Cowboys & Aliens are of course inevidable.
People have said how John Carter is based on various books, by which the other afore mentioned movies are also inspired. Does that mean we can't blame John Carter for doing nothing new? Of course we can! It is a movie, and so it is completely reasonable to compare it to other recent scifi flicks. And in that regard, John Carter is just a little bit too much of all those other movies. It all feels so familiar and tired.
I came out of this movie kind of liking it. But as the experience kind of sunk in, more and more things started to bother me. I'm reasonably sure that on a second viewing, I might end up disliking it completely.
Last edited by Rob Van Der Sloot; 06-08-2012 at 17:33.
22-03-2012, 00:36 #1946
22-03-2012, 01:59 #1947
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I'm not so upset with the idea of rewrite, and more with the fact that he's rewriting something so core that it actually changes one of the words of the title. Even the acronym changes. TMNT becomes TANT. That is a good sign that you are going too far.
22-03-2012, 03:01 #1948
Yeah, it's a load of crap. But I've come to expect that from Hollywood.
22-03-2012, 05:50 #1949
This is terrible, but hey, it is Michael Bay, that is what he does. He creates terrible things. Lets vote with our wallet and not go see it.
22-03-2012, 06:20 #1950